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Gibbs: Obama closer to decision on Afghanistan

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One prior to departing Miami, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009.Gerald Herbert / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has nearly finished gathering information and advice on how to proceed in Afghanistan, but he will weigh his options before announcing a plan on U.S. troop strength there.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that a planned meeting on Friday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be among the last events in the decision-making process.

"I think the president will take some time after these meetings to pick through what he's heard, what we've all learned, and evaluate this process with what's best for our country, what's best for Afghanistan, Pakistan and for the region as a whole," Gibbs said.

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan has urged Obama to send up to 40,000 more troops to confront Taliban forces who control large swaths of the country. But many liberals and some top Democratic lawmakers want a much smaller increase in U.S. troops, if any.

Gibbs said the president will announce his decision "in the coming weeks," a phrase he has used often before.

Gibbs spoke as Obama flew from Florida to Norfolk, Va., where he was to attend a campaign rally for Virginia gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds.